Whether you are a professional speaker or a writer, whether you are just a normal person worried about a presentation you need to give to your class or your boss, this is one thing you will have asked yourself: “How can I keep my audience interested?”
Over the last two years, I have come to understand that the single biggest weapon in your communication arsenal is surprise. If you can surprise your audience and keep them surprised, you can be sure that they’ll listen to what you have to say.
Surprise can be a wide field to navigate, so I’ve narrowed down 5 things you can do in your speeches or articles to ensure your audience is hooked, and remain hooked!
You must have read this in a gazillion articles about the importance of stories. Because stories work. It has emotion, it has characters, it has a problem and it’s resolution. Everything that a human brain loves. If you want to make a point, there’s no better way to do it than by sharing a story; yours or someone else’s.
- Ask a your audience what they think
Open with a question that gets the audience thinking. This is a powerful way to get them attentive. And as you move along in your talk or article, keep posing questions that makes them introspect about their lives and experiences.
- Use short, simple sentences and words
This is a very basic thing to do, but it’s something that many people miss out on. If you can communicate your idea in a way that your reader or listener can understand, they will keep up with you.
The best way to do that is to speak normally, without using too much technicality and big, fancy words.
If you are giving a presentation, please do make sure your slides do not have big paragraphs. Follow this as a thumb rule: If a point on your slide takes up two lines, it’s too big.
Complexity is what your audience will be expecting. Don’t give them that.
- Throw some pictures in
As a writer, you can just put a picture of what you are talking about into your article. Or, you can describe it in real detail with vivid words.
Also use vivid words when you are giving a speech. Random words strung together (even if they make sense) will not excite your audience if they are not able to imagine what you are saying in your head. Let me give you an example:
Democracy is of the people, by the people, for the people.
Sure this has a nice ring to it, but it needs a lot of thought to understand what it means. But if this is preceded by something like this:
In a democracy, you are a small part of the ruling body. You get to choose who goes into the ruling body as decision makers, and these decision makers are your representatives. They are there to put your needs into the limelight.
Then that sentence becomes a lot more comprehensible.
If you are giving a presentation, definitely alternate your written slides with some picture slides. It will definitely lighten up the place!
I recently gave a talk where I was describing how I tried teaching a cousin of mine to bat. Rather than just narrating a story (which is effective anyway), I actually brought out a bat and acted out the whole situation. This went a long way in helping my audience understand what really happened in my situation.
Props have a certain shock value. And, they make your message (or story) concrete and detailed. If you want to add that extra spice into your talk, use them.
Give these 5 ideas a try the next time you write/speak/present something. I promise you, you won’t regret it.